الإيثارُ أعلَى الإحْسانِ۔

Self-sacrifice is the highest form of benevolence.



Self-sacrifice is the highest form of benevolence.

— Imam Ali a.s.
(Ghurar al-Hikam: Self-Sacrifice)

Personal Reflection

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad (), his pure progeny, and his noble companions.

The Arabic Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) states, "الإيثارُ أعلَى الإحْسانِ۔" This can be translated into English as,

Self-sacrifice is the highest form of benevolence.

Let us delve into the meaning of the key words in this Hadith. (al-i'thar) "الإيثارُ" refers to selflessness, putting others before oneself, and prioritizing the needs of others over one's own desires. It is an act of generosity that goes beyond what is expected or required. (a'la) "أعلَى" means higher or superior, indicating that self-sacrifice is the pinnacle of goodness and virtue. (al-ihsan) "الإحْسانِ" refers to acts of kindness, benevolence, and excellence in one's actions towards others.

To understand the profound wisdom behind this Hadith, we can turn to the Quran for guidance. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says in Surah Al-Baqarah (2:177),

It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the east or the west, but righteousness is to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the angels, and the Book, and the Prophets, and to give wealth, however cherished, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, beggars, and for the freeing of slaves, and to establish prayer and give zakah. And those who fulfill their promises when they promise, and those who are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.

This ayah emphasizes the importance of selflessness and giving to those in need. It teaches us that true righteousness lies in believing in Allah and the principles of Islam, and then manifesting that belief through acts of kindness and generosity towards others. By prioritizing the needs of others and sacrificing our own desires, we demonstrate our commitment to the path of righteousness.

Furthermore, in Surah Al-Hashr (59:9), Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) says,

And [also for] those who were settled in the Home (i.e., Madinah) and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul - it is those who will be the successful.

This verse highlights the exemplary behavior of the Ansar (the residents of Madinah) who welcomed and supported the Muhajirun (the emigrants from Makkah). The Ansar displayed self-sacrifice by giving preference to the needs of the Muhajirun over their own, despite facing their own hardships. This act of selflessness is praised by Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) and serves as a powerful example for all Muslims to follow.

Imam Ali's (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) Hadith echoes the teachings of the Quran, emphasizing the importance of self-sacrifice as the highest form of benevolence. It encourages us to go beyond the minimum requirements of kindness and generosity, and to actively seek opportunities to prioritize the needs of others over our own desires.

By practicing self-sacrifice, we cultivate a spirit of empathy, compassion, and selflessness within ourselves. We learn to appreciate the struggles and challenges faced by others and strive to alleviate their burdens. This virtuous act not only benefits those we help, but it also purifies our souls and strengthens our connection with Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ).

In conclusion, the Hadith of Imam Ali (عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ) reminds us of the importance of self-sacrifice in our journey towards righteousness. It teaches us that true benevolence is not limited to mere acts of kindness, but rather it involves going above and beyond to prioritize the needs of others. By embodying the spirit of selflessness, we emulate the noble qualities of our beloved Prophet Muhammad () and the Ahl al-Bayt, and we strive to fulfill the purpose of our existence as Muslims. May Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ) grant us the ability to practice self-sacrifice and to be a source of goodness and compassion for all those around us.

. : . (Readers are advised to verify the sources mentioned above, and to independently research for an accurate understanding of Hadith. Remember, personal research and seeking guidance from scholars are essential in gaining a better insight. Please, do contact us if you find any wrong citations or explanations.)

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